Should Buddhists send loving kindness to Donald Trump?

Practising Buddhists regard themselves as non-violent, tolerant, mindful and meditative. Their spiritual teachers will probably encourage them to direct their loving kindness to everybody.

Is it wisdom or a delusion to send loving kindness to Donald Trump?

Like millions of others, Buddhists are also prone to expressing  great frustration with the behaviour and policies of Trump. They don’t want to feel in dread of him or show displays of anger or rage. So Buddhists try to keep faith with their practice of loving kindness (called ‘metta’ in the Buddhist language). There is a place for this but not at the expense of addressing bigger issues.

Buddhists direct their meditations of loving kindness to the three kinds of people in the world – the friendly, the strangers and the unfriendly. Probably the vast majority of Buddhists would regard Trump as being in the third category. Buddhists in the USA and elsewhere need to ask themselves two questions:

Is the directing of loving kindness to Donald Trump going to make any difference to his policies,  his personal behaviour towards women and men or his racism?

Are these loving kindness meditations a way for Buddhists to experience a feel good factor when seeing on TV the US president or reading his latest violent tirade in the media, often gleaned from his daily Twitter?

Even if all 500 million Buddhists in the world and the three to four million Buddhists in the USA sent metta to Trump, it is hard to image that it would make a scrap of difference to the mind-set of the US President.

Buddhist in the USA, as well as all other US citizens, need daily reminders of the dangerous rants of this international demagogue, who generates conflict and stirs violence in his public broadcasts.

Trump’s First Year in Office

In the first year of office, Donald Trump has threatened nuclear war with North Korea. He said the US would “have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” unless the country stopped its programme to develop nuclear weapons.

“Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,”

Trump has:

  • fermented even further the deeply rooted social and ethnic divisions in the USA
  • encouraged Islamaphobia, racism and hatred against minorities
  • wants a ban on the vast majority of Muslims coming to America
  • retweeted a quote from a far right English extremist who despises Muslims
  • endorsed arrests of immigrants who lack the necessary visas in the USA. Arrests have increased in a year by 40%  – whether at home, sitting in church, courts or at work.
  • cuts programmes for refugees, asuylim seekers and immigrants
  • appointed an ultra-conservative judge to get his far-right policies through the supreme court.
  • determined to roll back programmes, already minimal, including social benefits, health, environment, immigration, gun laws and supports the mediaeval criminal system.

Trump has also:

  • pulled the US out of the Paris Accord, an important step towards protecting the Earth and its inhabitants through cutting greenhouse gases that inflame climate change.
  • cancelled the government’s protection for millions of acres of wilderness to enable large corporations to exploit these areas.
  • campaigned to destroy the Obama health care programme, one of the few progressive steps in the previous President’s eight years in office.
  • claimed both sides, fascists/neo-Nazis and campaigners for equality, were to blame for any street violence in demonstrations.
  • made major cuts in corporation tax to benefit his billionaire friends.
  • blocked transgender individuals from serving in the US army.
  • praised the brutal leadership  of Turkey and the Philippines.
  • Ignored the UN and declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, thus rejecting the same aspiration of Palestine.
  • described African nations, as well as Haiti and El Salvador, as “shitholes” – a tone similar to the rants of Hitler against the Jewish people in the 1930s.
  • questioned why so many of citizens from Africa, Haiti and El Salvador had ever been permitted to enter America.

Trump’s approval rating is down to 33% – by far the lowest for a first-year President in recorded history. Two thirds of Americans say Trump divides the country, which gets more and more fragmented every decade.  The country is in severe crisis while most Americans sit around and do nothing but complain or get angry.

American Buddhists and others delude themselves in imagining that only sending loving kindness in their meditations to Donald Trump shows an authentic loving kindness. Loving kindness reveals itself in action to end suffering for one and all. American Buddhists especially need to get off their meditation cushion and join others in the USA to get Donald Trump out of office as quickly as possible. Americans must take responsibility for their President.

Loving Kindness reveals itself in action,

Former President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats  refuse to admit that their years of neglect of the needs of the electorate,especially the poor, and their environment, contributed to the election of Trump. They continued with their war mongering policies. They spent billions of dollars on the military machine – money that could have created jobs, affordable homes, a clean environment and harmonious communities.

Rather than take responsibility, the Democrats seek to project blame onto Russia for allegedly interfering with the US elections. Regardless of how much or little collusion between Trump and certain Republicans and Putin, Democrats have a much bigger responsibility that enabled Trump to take office in the White House. The Democrats let the people down so around 60 million citizens turned their back on them.

Trump needs to be stripped from office for threatening a nuclear war, inciting racism and for violent abuse of power. US Buddhists need to speak out, join meetings, write letters to congressman, senators, judges and the media to demand the end of the Trump presidency. Buddhists need to employ social media, write articles, blogs, critiques and demonstrate to get this man impeached or immediately fired. Trump personifies all that is ugly in politics and business. We need fundamental change in these two powerful institutions.

The President of the United States is emotionally and mentally unfit for office. He needs help. He needs counselling. He needs medication. Help to make this happen. Traumatised, isolated and angry, he carries on struggling to survive while in the last decade or so of his life, Donald Trump needs everyone to come to his aid. His reactivity and tirades show the intensity of his demands for attention.  We are witnessing the neediness of a desperately lonely man.

US Buddhists show an authentic loving kindness to President Trump by saving himself from himself. He simply cannot handle the role as President of the United States and self-appointed head of the free world. He cannot handle the pressure, so he gets relief through his rants and authorising dangerous political policies generating despair for large numbers of people within the USA and overseas.

We are currently witnessing worldwide the greatest humanitarian disasters in human history – endless wars, famines, floods, earthquakes, fires, deforestation and so on. We need wise and compassionate leadership.

The Buddha encouraged the directing of loving kindness to one and all.  A decision ordering  President Trump to step down shows loving kindness for Trump, the millions of people in the USA and worldwide. Out of love and empathy for people, animals and the Earth, we must support meaningful change.

In a verse, well loved by Buddhists, the Buddha said (Dhammapada. Verse 5): “Hatred (including rage, anger, blame) does not cease with hatred but with non-hatred. This is an eternal truth.”  Rage, anger and blame towards Trump feeds his ego. We need skillful means to end the current occupation of the White House.

Wisely, the Buddha did not expect his practitioners to show loving kindness in every situation. We can act with the power of equanimity and wisdom.  Equanimity expresses an absence of ill-will towards Donald Trump. Clarity and equanimity supports our deep concerns. We do not have to put pressure on ourselves to feel loving kindness towards Trump.

May all beings take wise action

May all beings explore loving kindness

May all beings live with wisdom.

 

 

 



  • The implication of this idiotic article is that not wanting Muslims murderers in your country is somehow evil. All this shows is you don’t have a clue what Buddhism is. The Buddhists of Burma don’t want these murderers there. I think I’ll listen to them, and Trump, over you.

  • I am very sorry to see my old teacher (since 1978 in Scheibbs) getting involved in politics.
    I always admired Christopher for his wise and active dharma talks and his immense knowledge of the Dharma. But in this special blog i am not only disappointed but actually very surprised.
    I am no Trump-fan at all and I would not accept his presidency as beneficial but it is not my task to judge upon Trump’s karma. We have enough to do to work on our own.

    And when looking at other leaders in the world, Trump seems at least subjectively believe in his mission.
    One of his predecessors started a war against Irak on no reason, well knowing that Sadam Hussein has no weapons on mass destruction. This war killed 300,000 people and is not over yet with all the bombings.
    And a Philippine president who prides himself on having committed murders by hand and having ordered more than 10,000 extrajudicial killings.
    Not to forget presidents of Turkey, North Korea and many other states ruling with more brutality than Trump.
    So why, dear Christopher do you engage yourself in politics?
    After having read your blog I cancelled my participation for your retreat in Sarnath this February. I will have to look for another teacher who guides me in peace and tolerance.
    I wish you all the best – and much Metta.
    Theodor

  • Is Trump really the problem? Most of us have an older family member just like him who we politely ignore at annual gatherings. The problem is his immense power. This is much larger than a single ignorant oligarch holding an office. The problem is hierarchy. We allow the rich to rule us and they are incredibly corrupt. Unless you follow the Buddha’s instruction to monks to never touch money you are part of this system. If you try to leave it they will hound you like the homeless in California. They have made it illegal to be poor. You can hate the corrupt system and still love the man. Introspection on how you prop up toxic hierarchical power structures is needed. Even how some religions preach obedience, faith and self sacrifice looks suspect. The Divine Right of Kings is now the divine right of capital. It’s time to have a conversation about the limits we need to put on capitalism.

  • I can (understand) that the neighbourhood is on fire, smell the smoke, hear the screams, and sit on my cushion in my shrine room and contemplate/understand impermanence and suffering and, radiate loving-kindness.

    Alternatively, it may occur to me that it would be a good idea to get up and do something about it. This is another kind of understanding that makes a lot more sense than sitting still when there are things that need to be done. It is nice to practice our smiles whenever we can – smiling is good (no doubt). Smiling inwardly- smiling outwardly – breathing in, breathing out, you know the drill!

    When it comes to discerning when it’s appropriate to remain calm and inert and when it’s appropriate to remain calm and do something – this can be challenging. Especially, if we have been encouraged to do a great deal of ‘nothing’ as the highest ideal in life. There needs to be an appropriate balance – don’t you think?

    It is easy to understand why this kind of confusion is everywhere to be found outside of Buddhist circles but, inside? and so it goes …

  • I respectfully disagree with you, Mr Titmuss.

    I think that it’s an accurate reading of Buddhist texts to direct metta to anyone and everyone. If we wish that DT be happy, that he not suffer, and that he enjoy equanimity, that doesn’t preclude also working to get him out office. Also, I believe that most people as flawed as DT are already suffering ‘bigly’.

    He is a real challenge though, maybe the biggest challenge to my metta practice whom I’ve ever come across. But surely it’s helpful, at least to me, to have that challenge.

  • Yay Christopher!

    Bracing wisdom from a good Buddhist teacher. I did retreat with you, Jaya & Brian in jan 2002, Bodh Gaya.

  • “Wisely, the Buddha did not expect his practitioners to show loving kindness in every situation.”? Like a mother holds on her only son, one should hold on goodwill! the Bhddha told, Upasaka Christopher, for those seeking and end of suffering and stress.

    http://zugangzureinsicht.org/html/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.than_en.html

    “Christopher, aren’t you a clansman who has gone forth from the holding on senses into freedom from sense faculties out of conviction?”

    “And, Christopher, if anyone gives someone a blow with the hand or a stone or a rod or a knife in your presence, right there you should abandon any desires related to the household life and any thoughts related to the household life. And even then you should train yourself, ‘My mind will be unaffected and I will say no evil words. I will remain sympathetic to that person’s welfare, with a mind of goodwill, and with no inner hate.’ That’s how you should train yourself.”

  • There are only supposedly “good” reasons to avoid sending loving kindness to this or that one person.
    I agree we have to fight Trump’s actions but both are not linked.
    We can send him loving kingness to wish him to find other ways to fill happy and strong than through squahing others. We can wish him to open his eyes and ears…
    Love


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*